The U.S. Women’s National Team will play one final game in 2019 as it faces Costa Rica on Nov. 10 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 & TUDN). Here are five things to know about Las Ticas.
Costa Women’s National Team Roster by Position:GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Noelia Bermudez (Saprissa), 13-Dinnia Diaz (Liberia), 18-Priscilla Tapia (Moravia)
DEFENDERS (7): 3-Maria Paula Elizondo (Saprissa), 4-Mariana Benavides (Coronado), 6-Carol Sanchez (Moravia), 8-Daniela Cruz (RCD Espanyol, ESP), 12-Lixy Rodriguez (Codea-IDA), 15-Stephannie Blanco (Coronado), 19-Valery Sandoval (Codea-IDA)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 2-Gabriela Guillen (Saprissa), 5-Maria jose Morales (Moravia), 9-Gloriana Villalobos (Florida State, USA), 10-Shirley Cruz (Codea-IDA), 11-Raquel Rodriguez (Sky Blue FC, USA), 16-Katherine Alvarado (RCD Espanyol, ESP), 20-Viviana Chinchilla (Codea-IDA)
FORWARDS (3): 7-Melissa Herrera (Stade Reims, FRA), 14-Priscilla Chinchilla (Codea-IDA), 17-Maria Paula Salas (Saprissa)
We Meet Again
The USA has faced Costa Rica more times than any other CONCACAF foe besides Canada and Mexico. The WNT is 14-0-0 all-time vs. Costa Rica and most recently played Las Ticas in the final match before the 2016 Olympics, a 4-0 win in Kansas City, Mo. The match before that saw the teams meet to open the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Frisco, Texas. The USA scored seconds into the match through Alex Morgan, had a 3-0 lead inside of 16 minutes, and went on to win 5-0 on goals from Morgan (2), Carli Lloyd, Crystal Dunn and Christen Press. The previous two matches before that came at the beginning of the 2015 Women’s World Cup Victory Tour, with the USA winning 8-0 in Pittsburg, Pa. and 7-2 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Of the 14 meetings between the teams only one has come in Costa Rica. That was during qualifying for the 2004 Olympics when the USA won 4-0 in San Jose to earn its Olympic berth. Nine meetings have come in the USA, three in Mexico and one in Vancouver during qualifying for the 2012 Olympics.
See You in 2020
This match in Jacksonville will be a prelude to a much more important game on February 3, 2020, when the teams meet in Houston in the final Group A game in Olympic Qualifying. Costa Rica qualified for the Concacaf 2020 Olympic Women’s Qualifying Tournament by winning a three-team group, which it hosted, at the CONCACAF Women’s Central American 2020 Olympic Qualifiers in that also included El Salvador and Nicaragua. Eight of the 14 meetings between Costa Rica and the USA have come during CONCACAF qualifying tournaments with the teams meeting twice in 2010 in qualifying for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
A Growing Program
After participating in the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the first time in 2015, and despite not qualifying for the 2019 WWC, Costa Rica has been making excellent progress in the women’s game. At its first World Cup appearance in 2015, Las Ticas distinguished themselves, tying two games in group play (1-1 with Spain and 2-2 with South Korea) while losing one (0-1 to Brazil). Melissa Herrera and Karla Villalobos, as well as Raquel Rodriguez netted once each at the World Cup. In the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship semifinals, Costa Rica prevailed over Trinidad & Tobago, 3-0 on penalty kicks, after a 1-1 draw, to earn a place at Canada 2015. Goalkeeper Dinnia Diaz was a hero in that match, making three saves in the penalty kick shootout while her teammates converted the first three. That tournament also mark the first time Costa Rica had beaten Mexico, registering a 1-0 win.
Cruz and Rodriguez Lead the Way
Costa Rica’s all-time greatest player is midfielder Shirley Cruz, who played a remarkable 14 years in France with Lyon and then with Paris Saint-Germain before playing a year in China and now has returned to Costa Rica. Representative of the improving level of CONCACAF women’s soccer, five players on this roster play outside of Costa Rica, including two in the United States and one, forward Raquel Rodriguez, who plays for Sky Blue FC in the NWSL. She has played 76 games in the NWSL over four seasons and has eight career goals, including three in 2019. Rodriguez won the MAC Hermann Trophy as college soccer’s top player for Penn State in 2015.
Costa Rica has brought an experienced squad with half of the 20-players roster having earned 47 or more caps and on this roster 12 players participated in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Veteran midfielder Katherine Alvarado, who plays in Spain with RCD Espanyol, leads the squad with 93 caps to go along with 15 goals. Rodriguez is far and away her country’s leading scorer with 40 international goals in 69 caps. Cruz has 85 caps and 28 career goals, numbers that would no doubt be much higher had she not spent so many years abroad. Herrera, who plays in France with Stade Reims, where the USA opened this summer’s World Cup, is another attacking threat and has 64 caps with 11 goals. Villalobos is currently playing college soccer at Florida State where she is one of Mark Krikorian’s key players for the Seminoles and a member of last year’s NCAA title team.